Tom Wilhelmsen Gets Ugly

 Before Wilhelmsen came into the game on Tuesday, Mike Blowers announced that starting two games ago --- > Wilhemsen had found total confidence in his breaking ball.

Huh, I thought.  Mike Blowers is not The Gospel According to Leo Durocher, but he is indeed (1) a baseball-savvy individual who (2) is currently in personal contact with Tom Wilhemsen.  That beats me on two counts, so I sat up.

Wilhelmsen warmed up angrily and decisively, as always.  But then he reared back and not only fired 96 mph, but did so with the body language of Rickson Gracie stomping across the ring to break a boxer in half.

Wilhelmsen snapped Olivo's return toss out of the air with his glove, set, and fired... a hellacious tight-spin 78 power curve off for called strike two.  I stood up.

97 fastball just off the plate 1-2, then 97 fastball right. on. the black. for a garbage swing strike three.  "That is what you call a no-chance at-bat," Blowers gloated.


TW retired batter two with ease, and then went back to his FB-CURVE combo to get an easy 0-2 count on the last hitter.

Boxers have a saying, the left is the can opener, and the right is the spoon... TW's 1-2 punches looked like he was using Freddy Kruger's utensils out there.

It ain't the velocity, or the Nintendo break; he's had that.  What he has now, is an air about him like he's too good for the league.  Exactly the air that Michael Pineda had in spring training.


Curious, we went back to TW's game logs to see how long he'd been doing this (I haven't been watching TV that much).

Read it and weep:  this is the 8th straight outing in which Wilhelmsen has not walked a batter.  Not only that, but check the Strike-Ball columns.  120 vs. 41, as in.


Blowers and Sims noted that Tom Wilhelmsen is the M's 8th-inning lockdown man for 2012, you know, as though noting that Eric Wedge will be back for next year.

It sort of breaks the momentum to angle off like this, but Tom Wilhelmsen has an attribute that Michael Pineda doesn't:  he can throw his first pitch at top velocity.  

Odd to find a pitcher who has both a starter's motion and rhythm, and also the ability to muscle the first pitch. ... Brandon Morrow, who is a pitcher-pair with Wilhelmsen, also does this.


Wilhelmsen would make a very intriguing starting pitcher, but apparently he doesn't read Seattle Sports Insider.  Right now he thinks that he is the American League's next great short reliever.

The man was snicking the return throws out of the air and then riffing through his pitch sequences like Randy Johnson -- practically waving the hitters back to the dugout as he walked off the mound. ... he's got the crazy for it, too.

That was awesome.  That, gentlemen, was an SSI Best Bet out there tonight.


RockiesJeff's picture

Now that I can hear your voice, thanks for the play by play of a solid inning. TW's strike/ball ratio is incredible when you figure he is throwing mid to high 90's. I had MLB on and was hoping to see Delabar. Curious to see his offspeed gyrowhatever.


I know you see a starter in Wilhelmsen, but there is value to leaving well enough alone :)  He is six weeks removed from starting in AA and doing it extremely poorly.  Maybe he's figured something out that he can implement on the mound no matter what his role is, but maybe he is mentally/emotionally better suited to relief pitching.
A relief pitcher has to be able to deal with the stress and anxiety of high leverage situations, but a starter has to maintain a razor sharp focus for 2+ hours.  That is hard.  Ever try to sit through a 2+ hour lecture without loosing focus?  UGH!


I would love for him to start.  I've always wanted that.
But if he wants to close, has his head around being a late inning reliever...I'd take the next JJ Putz and be grateful.
If so, at the trade deadline next year we flip League since he's a FA in 2013, let Tom close (can he come in to Dave Matthews' Bartender or is that not intimidating enough? *laughs*) and see whether Ruffin or Lueke is ready for setup at that time.
I still think Lueke is miscast as a multi-inning reliever, but we'll see where they go with him next year too.  Hard to promote a guy who will give up 3 or 4 runs every few games to higher-leverage innings.
Tom seems like he's growing more into a late-inning beast with every appearance.

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